If a woman makes more money, should she pay ‘manimony’?

The other day a friend was telling me about her friend that quit her high-paying marketing job because she absolutely refused to pay her lazy husband alimony after finally kicking him out of the house.

Then last night I ran across this story on The Huffington Post examining if it’s fair for women who make more money not to pay alimony or manimony as they are dubbing it? Why should it be any different than when a man makes more and divorces?

From The Huffington Post:

“There really are two valid sides to this argument. If you think about it, men have been paying spousal support for years to their ex-wives who are staying home to raise the kids. Many of these stay-at-home moms have argued they gave up a career to raise a family and are entitled to compensation for that sacrifice.”

“After all, the goal of spousal maintenance is to financially support someone who cannot support himself or herself after the marriage ends. So does it really matter if that someone is a man or woman?”

“Women argue even if they are the CEO of their own company, for example, they are still often the CEO of the house as well. The school calls them when the kids are sick. These moms still take the kids to the dentist, doctor and extracurricular activities and often wake up in the middle of the night when the child is sick. These high-powered female executives argue because they are moms, by definition, the bulk of the care seems to rest on their shoulders. They’re doing double-duty, so to speak, and don’t want to send a check to their ex every month because they don’t believe he bares the brunt of the single parent job.”

We had another friend who supported her husband through multiple attempts at grad school to find himself and she when she finally decided to divorce him she went ballistic at the idea that she would keep supporting him. I think she got out of it but I can’t remember how she did it. (This was like 10 years ago. I think he finally decided on a career once she stopped paying all the bills and he started making money.)

Does it feel different for a woman to want and expect alimony after a divorce versus a man expecting it?

Do you make more than your husband? Would you pay him alimony if you divorced? Would you be OK with paying manimony if your husband had quit his job years before to be the main caregiver of the kids? Does that change the situation?

– Theresa Walsh Giarrusso, ajc.com Momania. I have increased my Twitter activity. I am sending out great stories for moms each day focusing on health, fitness, sex, entertainment, food, travel and obviously parenting! So follow me on Twitter at @AJCMOMania!)

95 comments Add your comment

jay

May 26th, 2011
1:11 am

this is funny with all the lazy women that make a man support them

TeachAManToFish

May 26th, 2011
6:42 am

If a man has to pay alimony then a woman should have to pay alimony. Equal rights means EQUAL responsibilities. Although I don’t think either should have too.

itpdude

May 26th, 2011
6:45 am

If this were a truly equal society, women would pay men alimony. Personally, I know two men who have sole custody of the children and the women do not pay a cent of child support and attempts to collect have been met with a strange sexism from the legal system. It’s odd. But then again, if the legal system weren’t sexist, there would be a lot more women in prison.

The Truth

May 26th, 2011
7:01 am

Well, are women looking for EQUAL rights or are they looking for SPECIAL rights, you decide…

NAGA

May 26th, 2011
7:01 am

You women want equal rights??? For God sakes, you end up with the children 90% of the time + child support.

TJ

May 26th, 2011
7:03 am

This is one double standard that will never go away. Women want every dime they can get from a higher earning husband after a divorce. But when the shoe is on the other foot, it’s a problem. The same applies to child support. One other thing that factors in is this: don’t assume that all women that have children are the “super mom” they want you to believe they are.

Gina

May 26th, 2011
7:13 am

Hell yes and child support too…

catlady

May 26th, 2011
7:16 am

IF the husband has been the primary caretaker* of the children, and will be taking care of them after the divorce, then, yes, he should be awarded alimony. * Primary caretaker does not mean taking care of the kids for a few months while unemployed. Nor does it mean once a month keeping the kids while the wife has a girls’ night out.

If there are no children involved, the husband or wife should not be given alimony except for a very short period (6 months) to get back on their feet–a minimal amount.

It galls me that my exhusband might be able to “draw” SS off MY work record when HE was the lazy bum and adulterer. I don’t think spouses should be able to draw off the work record of their mate, in this day and age. If you want to get SS, you should work for it!

Laurie

May 26th, 2011
7:28 am

I think it’s fair for men to receive alimony if the wife is the primary money maker. It’s called marriage. Be sure you can handle the commitment before you do it, and if you don’t like the idea of possibly supporting another person then don’t marry and don’t have kids.

Jeff

May 26th, 2011
7:33 am

Ditto to all the above. Equality also means taking the bad with the good.

justmy2cents

May 26th, 2011
7:51 am

I agree w/ Catlady. However, if she keeps the kids in the divorce, and he is obligated to pay child support…it gets kinda stupid to keep passing the money back & forth.

Alimony should just be done away with altogether.

mom2alex&max

May 26th, 2011
7:55 am

This topic is going to get really ugly…..

Lady Strange

May 26th, 2011
7:58 am

I was the “breadwinner” and primary care provider for our son in the family. When my husband and I got divorced I told him there was no way I was paying alimony or anything for him. I got primary custody of our son and get child support for him and that’s it. I didn’t ask for alimony nor was I going to give my ex any. Do I think men should be able to get alimony? Yes, depending on the situation. If they were a stay at home dad or primary care giver for the children then yes some alimony is reasonable.

JJ

May 26th, 2011
7:59 am

We wanted equal rights…..

George P Burdell

May 26th, 2011
8:01 am

Ms. Theresa, please think of better questions than this.
There is no “should” involved with alimony; the laws are already written.
As a divorced man who had an ex-wife that never had kids and never “gave up” her career as a travel agent, I had to pay alimony.
No should, if(s) or but(s); it had to be paid.

JJ

May 26th, 2011
8:04 am

BTW – SHE GOT THE JOB!!!!!!!!

I don’t know all the details just yet, I didn’t get a chance to talk to her last night, but thankfully she is employed, for now…….YEAH!!!!!! I am a happy mom…

MomsRule

May 26th, 2011
8:11 am

Congrats JJ! I know you are relieved :)

Criminal

May 26th, 2011
8:12 am

Take all the crazy sounding stuff we’ve heard women say for years like “I need to continue the lifestyle to which I’ve become accustomed” *(regardless of my trailer park lifestyle before I got married) and turn it around. If it’s good for the goose…

iRun

May 26th, 2011
8:21 am

The ONLY reason to EVER pay alimony is if one partner agreed not to work outside the home, and forfeited a career, children or not.

So, if you got married and it was agreed upon that one would be a house wife/husband or a SAHM/D and the marriage breaks…well, then I can understand.

But if you’re both working outside the home you should leave the marriage with what you came with and split evenly that you accumulated during.

* child support is not considered here as that’s a different issue

Betty

May 26th, 2011
8:23 am

Amen catlady! Very well said. And thank you for the definition of Primary Caretaker–I’ve had to explain more times than I like to recall that watching the kids occassionally so mommy can have a night off with the girls is what you do because you’re their father–it doesn’t grant you more money, bragging rights, or gold stars.

justbeinghonest

May 26th, 2011
8:26 am

I don’t think that there should be alimony at all. Child support yes but not alimony to either spouse. Child support should also include the basics for the child. Shelter, food, clothing, education, entertainment, this should be split 50-50 between parents. The children should never feel like there lives are any different because the parents cannot stay together. Also, child support is paid to the parent that has the child living with them. Not the 2 weeks in the summer and every other weekend parent.

mom of 3

May 26th, 2011
8:26 am

I think alimony should never be paid by either ex but child support is a different issue. If you can’t stand to be married to each other why pay or take money from the other. I took back my maiden name and cut all ties. If he wanted someone else then I sure as heck didn’t want him or any attachment to him. Why do you want either the ex husband or ex wife to keep supporting you?
Child support SHOULD be paid by both ex’s.

motherjanegoose

May 26th, 2011
8:26 am

JJ…great news…I left you a link on yesterday’s post, last night.

I agree with catlady.

In the entire year, I do not make more than my husband. There are weeks I make more than him. There are often weeks I make ZIP…like next week and that is basically my choice. As many know, I am self employed. I mention that he could step it up on the housework on the weeks I am making twice as much as him. So far, this has not happened as I will be CEO of the house no matter what. I could be CEO of the yard too but I am not up for the job :)

After yesterday’s post of the Mom who needed her son to work this summer just to cover the rent and help her out, I am grateful that my husband has always had a job and provided a good paycheck and benefits. We are lucky that we have never had to worry if we could pay the mortgage and that is a blessing in itself. Who knows what tomorrow holds?

LeeH1

May 26th, 2011
8:29 am

Of course equal rights does NOT mean equal responsibilities! What a silly idea!
Women aren’t drafted.
Women almost always get custody of children, even if they are unfit.
Women who are golddiggers always get alimony, and men often can’t.
Women and children first in emergencies (notice women go first before children).
Men who abuse women are animals. Women who abuse men make the man look like a wuss, and everyone laughs at him.
Women have absolute rights over their bodies, and can decide all on thier own to abort or not. The man, however, has no say over paying child support when the women decides to keep the baby. It is her decision, but his payment. Notice that the option to then give the child to the father, and then for the woman to pay the father for child support, is not even considered. When men got more college degrees than women did, it was awful gender discrimination. Now that women get more degrees than men, it is OK, since all women know that the education system is not/ca not be biased against boys.
The list goes on and on.

justbeinghonest

May 26th, 2011
8:30 am

I second that emotion Betty! A parent should welcome the opportunity to be with their child. Just because your ex wants a “girls night out” you have to remember you are not a baby sitter, you are that childs parent.

MrKay Esq

May 26th, 2011
8:33 am

I think many of you are confusing alimony for child support. Being the primary caregiver of the kids has no bearing on alimony, in fact one can be ordered to pay both alimony AND child support.

mom2alex&max

May 26th, 2011
8:35 am

I disagree with the “no alimony EVER” folks.

I knew a couple in my church that had been married for ever and a day (over 20 years) and they got a divorce. They were a military family, which meant that she really couldn’t work. They had been stationed all over the world and there really wasn’t a way she could hold a steady job. When they divorced, this woman was in her 50s with a spotty work history while he was a retired military man with a lustrious (sp?) career and pension on his side. Are you telling me she didn’t deserve alimony?

Example two: my parents have been married now for almost 40 years. Again, we moved several times to several countries while growing up due to my dad’s corporate job. They have 3 children and, again, mom couldn’t really hold a job during these years. If they were to divorce now, my father has a glorious 40 year corporate career behind him, while my mother has 40 years of keeping house, entertaining various corporate types to advance my dad’s career, raising children so that my dad could focus on his job, and attending various job related functions, again so my father could advance. If they were to divorce my mother wouldn’t deserve alimony?

motherjanegoose

May 26th, 2011
8:36 am

@ Betty…wow…I am sad for you.

My husband NEVER complained about watching our kids.
He was home with our son every morning ( after pulling the midnight shift) as an infant and I left to teach half day Kindergarten. I came home at 1:00 and he went to bed. We ate dinner at 7:30, took the baby for a walk in the stroller, bath, book and bed. Then we had a short time to ourselves and he went back to work. Fast forward a dozen plus years and he was home with both children each week I traveled and managed for 2 days. Now, he is home by himself, as the kids are at college. They try to check in with him but he is thick with our dog :). She selects him over me and that is fine.

Do you work outside the home ?

MrKay Esq

May 26th, 2011
8:46 am

@mom2alex&max

in your two examples I definitely agree with you those womend would deserve alimony. The biggest complaint I’ve seen, and wholeheartedly agree with, is when alimony is awarded and both the husband and wife are both employed, but there is a significant salary difference. Let’s say the husband makes $150k annually and the wife $40k annually and the judge awards the wife alimony to maintain the life she was accustomed to while married, that is, quite frankly, BS. Why should anyone, man or woman, be awarded the life they were accustomed to while they were married when they no longer are? If that’s truly the case, shouldn’t the wife in that example be required to continue cooking all of her ex-husband’s meals if that was what she did while they were married and that’s what he’s accustomed to?

justmy2cents

May 26th, 2011
8:49 am

@ Mom2- I was military, and also a military wife. You get spouse preference for jobs when you are relocated. She COULD have worked; I did.

jarvis

May 26th, 2011
8:50 am

“quit her high-paying marketing job because she absolutely refused to pay her lazy husband alimony”
File this under cutting off your nose to spite your face.

I’ve never really understood alimony. Child support makes perfect sense to me, but why would anyone be expected to support another grown person?

Jeff

May 26th, 2011
8:52 am

It looks like this is a situation where a little “affirmative action” is needed to make things a “level playing field” for the decades of one-sidedness on the issue of alimony. You know, like scholarships for females only, killing male college teams so women will have equality. I’m half tongue in cheek, half serious.

But I do know this, situations like this create divisions between men and women. I have a lot of respect for some women individually, but my respect for the female gender as a whole and the media that fails to push for real equality is very low.

iRun

May 26th, 2011
8:53 am

I’m with Alex and Max’s mom. And I make more money than my husband so it’s not that. But if one spouse has forfeited a career to support the other spouse in non-revenue ways then it was a partnership where the non-working spouse had no way to invest in retirement, etc. It’s not fair to not pay them alimony.

My sister’s college roommate is a decent example. When my sister when to med school her roommate started dating one of my sister’s classmates. They got married. Now ex-Roommate worked until they had kids. Ex-Roommate also took her inheritance from her dad, some 100K, and used it to help pay off her husband’s med school loans. Fast-forward 10 years, ex-Roommate is SAHM, as agreed by the two of them when they had children. Dr Husband dumps her for drug rep. Dr Husband makes >500K a year.

Think he doesn’t owe her alimony on top of child support? Of course he argued no. She argued, he owes it until the kids are in college and no longer need primary caretaker. At that point ex-Roommate said she could go back to school or try to restart her career.

Now, it’s been 6 years since and ex-Roommate got re-married so of course Dr Husband no longer pays alimony.

But I think it was completely fair, considering.

HS Mom

May 26th, 2011
9:11 am

“Let’s say the husband makes $150k annually and the wife $40k annually and the judge awards the wife alimony to maintain the life she was accustomed to while married, that is, quite frankly, BS.”

I fall into that category, because 15 years ago my DH & I AGREED that I stop working (college degreed w/ career) to raise our children. We came to this decision because he had the potential to earn alot more by him being able to travel and for us to relocate at a moment’s notice. I have gone back to work now that my kids are in HS.

So are you saying if my husband now decides to divorce me, I should not get alimony? I will never be able to make what I could have made because of our joint agreement, yet I don’t think I should live in poverty either.

justmy2cents

May 26th, 2011
9:11 am

@ iRun- Your comment is probably the reason I could never be a SAHM. I refuse to be completely dependent upon somebody to make sure I have a roof over my head, clothes on my back, and food in my belly.

People change, life happens…said Dr hubby could have walked out of the house one day and been hit by a bus. There are no guarantees in life and relationships, which is why you have to cover your own butt and keep current job skills.

motherjanegoose

May 26th, 2011
9:12 am

@ just…me too!

mom of 3

May 26th, 2011
9:17 am

Totally agree with justmy2cents. So what do the women do when they have an empty nest? I loved my 3 daughters and they were and still are my life – but I counted too. In this day and age why would anyone not want to be able to cover their own butts.

cc

May 26th, 2011
9:18 am

I think in iRun’s example she owns a part of his salary for good since she helped pay for his medical degree. On the same note, the woman in the article should get alimony from her husband for paying him through grad school while he was finding himself, regardless of the fact that she makes more.

jarvis

May 26th, 2011
9:20 am

Slightly on topic, I’ve heard a lot about Pharm reps sleeping with the doctors recently. Is this a new phenom or have I just been missing out on the good gossip?

jarvis

May 26th, 2011
9:22 am

cc, I don’t agree with your second point. I paid for my wife’s grad degree completely. I wouldn’t expect to get any of that back if we split up.

HS Mom

May 26th, 2011
9:22 am

“Women almost always get custody of children, even if they are unfit.”

In my neck of the woods, this is not so true anymore. I know of several men that have or are most likely going to get primary custody of the kids. Mom either was the one that walked out or had substance abuse issues, so yes unfit mommy basically lost the kids. I have witnessed more moms flipping out of late that I ever thought I’d see. Very sad situations.

JJ

May 26th, 2011
9:23 am

I agree 100% with iRun also. I have NEVER not worked. I don’t want to ever have to rely on anyone for my livelihood……When I get married again, or in any kind of relationship and he has money, or makes a ton of money, I will still continue to work. It’s just the way I was raised. I would HATE to ask someone else for money. I may not make a lot of money, but I MAKE IT and it’s mine.

JJ

May 26th, 2011
9:24 am

That last sentence didn’t sound very good. In a relationship, it would be OUR money that BOTH of us make…….I’m not saying I wouldn’t contribute…..

MrKay Esq

May 26th, 2011
9:28 am

@ HS Mom

That’s exactly what I’m saying… I just don’t get the sense of entitlement pro-alimony folks have. In your example you’re working and divorced, why should you be taken care of by your ex-husband when you can take care of yourself? I firmly believe that once the marriage ends (and it’s not one of the examples that mom2alex&max provided) you and only you should be responsible if you sink or swim, your lifestyle should no longer be your ex’s responsibility.

Sylvania

May 26th, 2011
9:36 am

Tidbits of info:

33% of higher earning spouses are women, but fewer than 4% of women are alimony payers.

Georgia has a law that allows for the modification or termination of alimony upon demonstration that the recipient is cohabitating with another person.

Also, in Georgia a person who has an affair that causes the divorce is not entitled to alimony.

motherjanegoose

May 26th, 2011
9:41 am

@ MrKay…I have always worked outside of the home. There ARE those who went from Daddy’s payroll to their husband’s. They may have an education but no job history nor experience.
Whose fault is that and who has to pay? Some women are still old fashioned in this respect.

We have discussed this here before but I am a firm believer of having my own money and bank accounts. Not everyone agrees and, of course, they each need to do what is best for them. If hubby takes care of everything and you split: what happens or vice versa? At least, be involved in the finances and know what is cooking. I still meet women who have NO idea what is up with financial issues. To me, that is a shame.

mom of 3

May 26th, 2011
9:56 am

100% agree @MJG – But are they old-fashioned or just lazy.

MrKay Esq

May 26th, 2011
9:59 am

@motherjanegoose

I’ve never understood why anyone in this day and age feels as though someone should take care of them, or in fact teach their children that…But I digress, in the case where husband and wife agree that one will stay at home and the other will be the sole provider, I understand why alimony is granted and make no argument against it. As I stated up thread, I simply have a problem when BOTH spouses are working, there is a salary gap and alimony is granted so one spouse can maintain the lifestyle afforded to them while married. Whether it’s the man who is paying it or the woman I think it’s unfair. Doesn’t the logic sound crazy to anyone else????? Let’s try applying the same logic but to something else and see how it sounds:

Imagine a man walking into a court room and saying “I’m accustomed to having (relations) with my soon to be ex-wife at least 3 times per week, and I feel as though I should still be entitled to said relations even though we’re divorcing”

Obviously I’m kidding about court ordered “relations” but this is the same logic being applied, the courts awarding a spouse something they were accustomed to during the marriage.

motherjanegoose

May 26th, 2011
10:06 am

@ MrKay…LOL…I was kicked to the curb, by some, yesterday for saying that my kids have had jobs since they were 16. They are now both in college. I guess they will learn how to take care of themselves :)

MrKay Esq

May 26th, 2011
10:17 am

@motherjanegoose

well I would’ve had your back yesterday, I got my first job at the tender age of 14 working in the stock room at my local deli. My mother said she would no longer purchase Nintendo games for me so if I wanted them I had to buy them. LOL